I was talking to a financial advisor friend the other day who told me he recommends people put their money into a particular on-line bank as it gives better interest rates than do regulation brick-and-mortar banks, keeping their costs low and their rates high exactly because they don’t have to deal with all it takes to see people in person. It’s easy. You put your money with them and everything is done on the internet.
See, I’m old. I don’t trust this newfangled thing they call The Internet to be there when you need it any more than I trust Russian hackers not to be working every day to find a way to take it down.
My nephew is the kind of kid who goes to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute over in Troy, New York and we were discussing recently the practicality of knowing how to read maps instead of relying solely on the GPS machine. “Knowing how to do things the old fashioned way will help you if the system ever goes down so that you can still function without the internet,” I said.
“You mean like in case of a Coronal Mass Ejection?” he asked.
“Is that where the queen goes into a rage, takes off her crown and throws it on the ground?” I asked.
“No, it’s a large solar flare that, when it’s large enough, like the one in 1859 that destroyed the newly formed telegraph system, can cause massive power outages.” (That’s what he finally said by the time I understood what he was saying. His other words were much more complicated than those.)
“Right!” I said. “If a Coronal Mass Ejection hits the earth and takes out the internet you still need to know how to get someplace. If you can read a map, you won’t be interrupted.”
He contemplated on that for a while and thought it sounded reasonable.
If a Coronal Mass Ejection hooks up with a Russian hacker (or even one from New Jersey) and turns all of these computers into paperweights, I want to be able to trot down to Shelburne Falls, knock on the bank door and say, “Hey! You got my money in there? I’d like it back now please.” And have them give it to me.
My financial advisor friend says that if we all go off-line we will have larger problems than that, but I know that I will feel much better being able to discuss this with someone in person instead of having the place that houses everything I got, disappear into the Mass of Coronal Ejection.
It puts me in the mind of a friend of mine back in the 1980s whose mother kept all of her money in her house. In the attic, the basement, between the pages of books, in the kitchen cabinet, under the sink, and anyplace else she thought it might be safe and unreachable. (Robert’s the friend who told me to always keep your money in a tampon box as no guy will ever touch that. Turned out the one time I got broken into, that worked! Remember that, Financial Advisors!) Growing up Black, poor and in the Jim Crow south, my friend’s mother had learned well not to trust anyone, especially when it came to her money, and now that she finally had some, she was going to make very sure it was safe and well-hid.
It took a while but Robert finally convinced his mother that keeping all her money in her little wooden Louisiana house made it susceptible to fire, flood, theft and a whole lot of other invaders she hadn’t even thought about yet, so she finally bagged it all up and they went together to see Mr. Sherman down at the bank to open her very first bank account, at age 66. She gave the money to the man, got her little passbook (this was well before the internet complicated things) and they went home.
The next day Robert got a telephone call from a very nervous bank manager who asked if Robert might come down there right away. Robert hurried over and found his mother in Mr. Sherman’s office, holding a gun on him, demanding to see her money. She had written those numbers on those bills down and she wanted to see them. All of ‘em! Hers! Not no one else’s!
Robert persuaded his mother to put the gun away, and she only did it because Mr. Sherman said he would give her all her money back right now. It might not all have the same identification numbers she’d written down, but it would all add up to the same amount. Right now. Here. Just please take it.
She took her money home and hid it back in its little hidey holes that she marked with secret touches that, if disturbed, would let her know someone had been in there. And then, a few years later she suddenly died. And when Robert went to her house to look for the money it was gone. He knew the places, he knew the secondary places. He knew the places she would think of if the first two places were full up or unavailable. All the places were empty. She’d either taken it with her to Heaven or someone else knew what they were looking for. And then the house caught fire and anything that might still be someplace was gone for good.
See? Let that be a lesson to you. Somehow.
I am, however, very interested to see how you guys feel about accounts that are solely on-line vs. brick-and-mortar banks. Do you trust the on-line-only kind? Let me know! I’m always interested in what you guys think! Even until this very day! Email me back at Nan@NanParati.com!
ALSO! Tomorrow is Halloween and I will be at Elmer’s beginning at 2pm to paint faces just like I have in the past years! (See? Some things don’t change at all!) Elmer’s will be serving two kinds of soup tomorrow night (just like we always have on Halloween!) so you can come in, have some fall-type dinner, hang out at the bar and pass a good time. And as usual, Sandy Lilly and her friends will be sitting on the front porch of Elmer’s handing out candy!
See you then!